A Hindu Nepali teenager suffocated to death after she was banished to a poorly ventilated hut for being
on her period.
The young girl of 15th died as a result of “Chhaupadi” an outlawed practice in which Hindus send girls and women to live outside of the family home while they menstruate.
The girl considered impure for four to seven days a month, lit a fire to keep warm in her hut, made of mud and stone. She is thought to have suffocated as a result of poor ventilation and was found lifeless in the Gajra village, Achham district, by her father Sunday morning.
Another Hindu Girl in Agony for Menstruation
Sarswati Biswo-Karma 13-year-old Nepali girl was deemed impure for being on her period, and sits inside a Chhaupadi house in the village of Achham, 800km west of Kathmandu, November 23, 2011.
Her death is not the first of its kind, despite the practice being made illegal in 2005. There is no official count of how many women die as a result of Chhaupadi—translated as “untouchable being”—but there are reports of deaths linked to this Hindu tradition every year.
Is a Menstruating Woman an Untouchable Being in Hindu Culture?
In December 2010, a woman in Bhairabsthan, Achham District, died of exposure while staying in a Chhaupadi shed. In January 2010, an 11-year-old girl from the same area died after a bout of diarrhea and dehydration that began while she was confined to a hut. Her family and neighbors refused to take the young girl to hospital, believing they would become impure if they touched her.
Police inspector Badri Prasad Dhakal told: “While we are waiting for the post-mortem report for the cause of her death, we believe she died due to suffocation.”
“She had lit a fire to keep herself warm before going to bed in the shed, which had no ventilation.” He added.
Why a Hindu Girl in her Period is Impure?
The social and religious tradition is responsible for those innocent and helpless girls’ death, as this tradition forbids menstruating women from consuming nutritious foods, such as milk and meat, or taking a bath. Everything a woman on her period touches—be it a person, a tree or a type of food—is thought to be spoiled.
Everything Touched by a Hindu Menstruating Female is Impure
During their stay in the family’s makeshift hut or cattle shed, the menstruating woman must survive on a diet of dry foods, salt and rice. They do not attend school and are forbidden to interact physically with others.
An authentic report says that as many as 95 percent of girls and women in Nepal’s western regions practice Chhaupadi.(1)
Hindu Scriptures and Menstruating Girl
In Hinduism, a menstruating woman is traditionally considered impure. During menstruation, a woman is not allowed to enter the kitchen and temples, sleep in the day-time, bathe, wear flowers, have sex, touch other males or females, or talk loudly. She may not mount a horse, ox, or elephant, nor may she drive a vehicle. Women themselves are seen as impure and polluted, and are often isolated as untouchables, unable to return to their family, for the length of their period.
Vāsiṣṭha Dharmasūtra says in this context:
(5) A woman in her courses is impure during three days and nights.
(6) During her period, she shall not apply collyrium (lotion or liquid) to her eyes, nor anoint (oil) her body, nor bathe in water; she shall sleep on the ground; she shall not sleep in the day-time, nor touch the fire, nor make a rope, nor clean her teeth, nor eat meat, nor look at the planets, nor drink out of a large vessel, or out of joined hands, or out of a copper vessel.
(9) Those Brahmanas in whose houses menstruating women sit, those who keep no sacred fire, and those in whose family there is no Srotiya (A learned and observant Brahmin)– all these are equal to Shudras.(2)
Islamic Ruling on Menstruation
After the rulings on Hindu menstruating female have been elucidated, and the saddening situation of a girl in Hindu society has been explained, now we would like to summarize the Islamic rulings on menstruating girls.
In Islam, a menstruating female can cook, drive, read, write, and meet the people. There are only few particular worships and ritual activities that are not allowed for her during the period, due to her weakness and hormonal changes during that time. In addition, according to Islamic Jurisprudence, even a husband is allowed to sleep with his menstruating wife, kiss her and hug her, and the husband can exercise all types of natural and permissible sexual activities with her if she agrees except vaginal and anal sex.
In addition, in Islam a menstruating woman is allowed to exercise all works including remembrance of Allah, recitation of supplications.
(1) http://www.newsweek.com/nepali-girl-banished-menstruating-dies-makeshift-chhaupadi-shed-534725 (Last accessed, December 21, 2016).
(2) See: Vāsiṣṭha Dharmasūtra Chapter VChapter V.
(3) http://www.islam-hinduism.com/en/purification-in-islam-and-hinduism-14/ (Last accessed, December 21, 2016).